Archive for December 3rd, 2013

03
Dec
13

Fish slapping

I began watching Monty Python on WNET in New York when I was, oh, about eight. Which explains a lot about me.

The pinnacle of Monty Python’s sketch comedy was a 30 second skit called “The Fish-slapping Dance”. Here is the skit, and a few related videos.

The Fish Slapping Dance

Michael Palin on “The Fish Slapping Dance”

Continue reading ‘Fish slapping’

03
Dec
13

Another Amk’s Talking-To-Himself Night Owl Post

03
Dec
13

Amk’s Talking-To-Himself Night Owl Post

03
Dec
13

Chat Away – In Search of Lost Time

The 20th Century produced two great novels, by which all other novels are judged: Marcel Proust’s “In Search of Lost Time” and James Joyce’s “Ulysses”. For your evening enjoyment, some selections from Proust’s gargantuan work. (And a bit of funny at the end.)

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The madeleine scene

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Alan Rickman reading Proust

Continue reading ‘Chat Away – In Search of Lost Time’

03
Dec
13

A Tweet or Two

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Continue reading ‘A Tweet or Two’

03
Dec
13

President Obama Makes a Statement on the Affordable Care Act

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2:30 EST President Obama Makes a Statement on the Affordable Care Act

White House Live * C-Span

03
Dec
13

Have we gotten any better?

Channing Kennedy unearthed a little tidbit from 1982, in which President Ronald Reagan’s spokesperson Larry Speakes is asked about the disease which had been recently declared an epidemic by the CDC: AIDS. Amid much laughter from Mr. Speakes and the White House Press Corps, all parties participate in a callous back and forth on what the Reagan Administration’s position was on the new disease.

One part of the dialogue stuck out to me:

Q: Does the President, does anybody in the White House know about this epidemic, Larry?
MR. SPEAKES: I don’t think so. I don’t think there’s been any—
Q: Nobody knows?
MR. SPEAKES: There has been no personal experience here, Lester.
Q: No, I mean, I thought you were keeping—
MR. SPEAKES: I checked thoroughly with Dr. Ruge this morning and he’s had no—(laughter)—no patients suffering from AIDS or whatever it is.

“There has been no personal experience here.”

No one in the White House, or among the White House Press Corps, knew anyone who was afflicted with AIDS. It hadn’t touched them. And the concerns of a despised minority reaping what they had sown were not their concerns.

Continue reading ‘Have we gotten any better?’

03
Dec
13

Rise and Shine

President Obama, with mother-in-law Marian Robinson, daughters Sasha and Malia, and First Lady Michelle Obama, react as they push to button to light the National Christmas Tree during a ceremony on the Ellipse in Washington, D.C., Dec. 9, 2010

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Today (All Times Eastern):

11:0: President Obama holds a bilateral meeting with President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia

12:05: Holds a working lunch with President Santos

12:30: Jay Carney briefs the press

2:30PM: President Obama speaks on the Affordable Care Act

3:30: President Obama participates in ambassador credentialing ceremony

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Get Covered America: Certainty For Rebecca

Certainty. That’s what Rebecca Haug of Del Norte, CO wanted most when she went to look for a new plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Since her husband passed away in 2007, she has been working as a registered nurse, gaining and losing coverage through employers who have closed up or cut back in tough times.

But now, Rebecca knows that her health insurance can’t be taken away if her job changes. Debt from her medical expenses, which have been pushing her toward bankruptcy, will finally stop piling up. Before the Marketplace opened, Rebecca was quoted a health insurance premium at nearly $1,100 a month — just for herself — from private insurers. But through the Marketplace, Rebecca found out she qualified for a $500 tax credit to purchase insurance. Because of that financial assistance, she will pay nothing for her monthly premium.

More here

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TPM: Obamacare To Cost ‘Billions Of Dollars Less Than Originally Projected’

Among the GOP’s myriad criticisms of the Affordable Care Act, one of the loudest has centered around the law’s price tag. But it turns out Obamacare won’t be as costly as expected. The New York Times reported Tuesday that “the government is expected to spend billions of dollars less than originally projected on the law.” The adjusted estimate is a result of the law’s Medicaid expansion and the subsidies for private insurance plans proving less costly than initially anticipated.

More here

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Michelle Andrews: Health Law May Offer Part-Time Workers Better Options

In January, part-time workers who have so-called “mini-med” health insurance plans with very limited benefits and annual caps on payments will begin to lose that coverage, which under the health care overhaul can’t  be renewed after the beginning of the year.  Many experts say it’s just as well, noting that part-timers likely will have better options in January. After the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, nearly all plans were required to eliminate lifetime and annual dollar limits on benefits.

When Roberta Grindle was diagnosed with colon cancer in October, she blew through the $5,000 coverage limit on her mini-med plan almost immediately. Grindle, 62, worked 16 hours a week at a big box store near her home in Sebring, Fla., and paid $32 every two weeks for the store’s  plan, the only coverage available to part-time workers.

The health law requires that employers offer health insurance to employees who work at least 30 hours a week or face penalties starting in January, but the Obama administration delayed that provision until 2015. Many part-time workers will have more options for better coverage starting in January. If their employer doesn’t offer a health plan, they can shop for insurance on the online marketplaces, and subsidies will be available to those with incomes up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level ($45,960 for an individual in 2013).

More here

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NYT: U.S. Regulator To Keep An Eye On Largest Student Loan Servicers

The U.S. consumer financial watchdog will soon start supervising the seven largest student loan servicers to ensure they treat borrowers fairly and comply with federal consumer laws, the agency said on Tuesday. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has taken a broad interest in the burden of student loan debt, which it says now totals $1.2 trillion and saddles many borrowers with debt that takes years to repay.

Student loan borrowers have complained about being charged late fees as a result of processing mistakes by the servicers, lost paperwork and poor communication. “Student loan borrowers should be able to rest assured that when they make a payment toward their loans, the company that takes their money is playing by the rules,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. Under a new rule set to take effect on March 1, the CFPB would expand its supervision to non-bank student loan servicers that handle more than 1 million accounts, regardless of whether they include federal or private loans.

More here

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Colorado Consumer Health Initiative: Strong Coverage For A Strong Family

Sara and I are also both self-employed small business owners. While Margaret and I have no health issues, Sara has a pre-existing condition. In 2008, Sara was treated for a “mild” heart issue, specifically a super ventricular tachycardia (SVT). At the time, the procedure was recommended essentially because it “couldn’t hurt” to get this issue done. It was a simple, low-risk procedure and was completed in a few hours.

However, what the doctors didn’t tell us is that treatment for this problem (which was a problem in name only – Sara had no illness or issues) would make it impossible for her to obtain healthcare later in life. Using the new Colorado Health exchange, Sara, myself, and Margaret were quoted $590.65 per month for a family plan. The individual annual deductible is lower ($1,750 per person, $3,500 per family), there is 25% coinsurance, and it’s a “silver” plan (KP CO Silver), which seems like it should be an upgrade over existing policies.

What’s more, the whole family will share the same policy. They can visit the same doctors (not all doctors would take Sara’s insurance via Cover Colorado), use the same online health record management system via KP.org, etc. Through Connect for Health Colorado my family can save money and have a more comprehensive health plan that meets our needs thanks to Obamacare.

More here

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Pisarski: #Ukraine | 1,6 mln people gathered in #Kiev on Sunday – according to Ukr police.

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Masha Gessen: A Whiter Shade Of Envy

In Russian, envy comes in two colors: black and white. The former is mean and resentful: “It should be me, not you.” The latter is aspirational: “I want to be you.” “Black envy” affirms a despondent world view; “white envy” affords a hopeful one. For a week and a half, many Russians have had a clear case of white envy watching the protests in neighboring Ukraine. After President Viktor F. Yanukovich backed out of signing a political and trade agreement with the European Union, protests broke out in Kiev and other Ukrainian cities.

Many competing and contradictory political forces are involved, but the way it looks from Moscow the front line is drawn clearly: Ukraine has to choose between an increasingly reactionary Russia and Western Europe. Russia is using every kind of pressure — from threatening economic sanctions to declaring tens of thousands of Ukrainians persona non grata — all in order to drag Ukraine back into the Middle Ages with it. Western Europe, which has many demands of its own, promises a future of openness and progress.

More here

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@DavidNakamura: VP Biden meets with Japan’s Deputy PM Taro Aso as U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy looks on.

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Nooga.Com: One Chattanoogan’s Experience With Obamacare

Chattanooga resident John VanHyning and his wife have gone without health insurance since July 2012. His wife is disabled, and the couple has two grandchildren who live with them, VanHyning said. He has a part-time job that pays a couple hundred dollars a week. Now, he has coverage that will go into effect Jan. 1 under the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare. Liberty Tax officials connected him with American Exchange, a local company whose leaders are helping residents nationwide connect with health insurance through the online marketplaces.

“I was even a little skeptical—how can they hook me up so easily when everybody else has [had so many problems?]” he said. Within about 40 minutes of going into Liberty Tax, where he made a phone call to American Exchange, he and his wife were signed up for health care coverage. It won’t cost the couple anything to get a silver plan through BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. The monthly premium cost for that plan is $683.64. But because of federal tax credits, the couple won’t have to pay any of that.

More here

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Edward Domain: My Affordable Care Act Enrollment Experience

On May 4th of this year, I was in a cab on a Saturday afternoon heading to the St. Louis Cinco de Mayo parade with two friends. My cab driver was texting and as a result rolled through a red light, we collided head-on with a van and I wound up in the hospital requiring 5 total surgeries and spent five and a half months in two hospitals and a nursing home. I have a new hip, will be in physical therapy for my shoulder for another year and without insurance I would have been doomed. My current bill for health insurance is $628.34/mo and only covers me.

This is insane.  No one I know pays this much for health insurance, so when Healthcare.Gov was announced, I was cautiously optimistic- I had also gotten a letter from Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Illinois informing me my policy was being cancelled. After I chose my plan rated ‘gold’ here is my new bill for health insurance under Obamacare: I am saving $265.85/mo under Obamacare, for a total savings of $3,190.20/year This plan is far better than what I had before. My current plan has a deductible of $3,000 and has a $20 co-pay. Under Obamacare, my new plan has a $750 deductible and $30 co-pay for doctor’s visits.

For me, I’ll happily pay an extra $10 when I visit the doctor in return for a smaller copay for the important stuff. If you look, the most I’ll ever pay in one year is $6000- after that I am 100% covered for everything. If you look at my plan details, you’ll see that if I am in-network, after the deductible is covered ($750) then almost everything gets covered 100%. The biggest point for me is that my new plan under Obamacare is with Blue Cross/Blue Shield, the same company that my old plan was under. That means they were happily over-charging me for insurance and now, thanks to Obamacare, I have a better plan than I had before and I am paying less for it. Also of note- I did not qualify for subsidies- I am paying the full rate.

More here

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Philadelphia Weekly: So I Signed Up For Obamacare And Got A Big Surprise

From 2005 to 2009, I paid $15 for all office visits after meeting my out-of-pocket deductible. But starting in 2010, that number became $30 per office visit for my family doctor and $50 for any specialists—and with a chronic illness, most of my office visits involve specialists. So, with age 40 looming on the horizon, I had resigned myself to rearranging my life still further, to the reality that I’d need to find, somehow, significantly more money to spend on my private health insurance—since it isn’t something I can live without. Then Obamacare appeared.

With the Personal Choice Platinum Plan PPO, I’ll pay $429.96 per month as a tobacco non-user at age 39. And when I turn 40 a few months later—the source of my financial dread? I’ll pay $435.41 per month. That’s not just no huge increase after all. That’s fifty bucks a month less than I’m paying now. It gets better. Instead of paying my current $30 for a family doctor visit, I’ll pay only $10. I’ll pay $40 for a specialist instead of the $50 I now pay.

With my new Platinum Plan, prescriptions are priced in three tiers. A generic drug’s copay is $5; a brand name drug purchase is a $30 copay; and a non-formulary brand is a $50 copay. That’s the pricing at retail pharmacies—but my new plan also offers a mail-order option to my door through Future Scripts that will enable me to buy a three-month supply of prescription drugs at the cost of a two-month supply’s copay. What sorcery is this? Well—it’s Obamacare. This is what Obamacare is. It’s not the flawed website the media has been dwelling on. It’s the more affordable care structure the website is supposed to point us to—and that a simple phone call did point me to.

More here

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Lauren Silverman: An Obamacare Success Story: From The High Risk Pool To The Marketplace For A Lot Less

More than 20,000 people rely on the state run Texas Health Insurance Pool. The pool insures folks with pre-existing health conditions who can’t find coverage elsewhere. In a few months, that risk pool will no longer exist. And at least one North Texas family is celebrating. Right after he retired a decade ago, Bob Flood learned he had cancer and a kidney would have to be removed. Just one month after he lost his kidney, he lost his health insurance. “The only place I could get health insurance was through the Texas health risk pool. And that is 200 to 400 percent above what the average person pays,”

Flood says. Flood’s family policy was more than three thousand a month. His wife Amy says they tried to write the check once a year to avoid seeing the bill so often. “That was a sizeable chunk of change,” Amy Flood says. “And frankly I would have rather given it to other needy people rather than just to an insurance consortium.” But the Floods wanted to be responsible, so they agreed to grin and bear it. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, they don’t have to anymore. “Now we have a policy which covers the three of us for less than a thousand dollars a month.”

More here

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On This Day:

President Obama whistles as he and Vice President Biden wait in the holding room of the South Court Auditorium prior to the opening session of the White House Forum on Jobs and Economic Growth in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Dec. 3, 2009. The Vice President’s personal aide, Fran Person, is at right (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama attends a breakout session, “Creating Jobs Through the Rebuilding of America’s Infrastructure,” during the White House Forum on Jobs and Economic Growth, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Dec. 3, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and daughters, Sasha and Malia, at the National Christmas Tree ceremony on the Ellipse in Washington, D.C., Dec. 3, 2009

On This Day: President Obama heads along the White House colonnade to the residence after leaving the Oval Office for the day, Dec. 3, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama reaches for a Purple Heart medal which he presented to a wounded soldier at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan, Dec. 3, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama participates in a live Twitter question and answer session in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Dec. 3, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

03
Dec
13

Early Bird Chat

On This Day: President Barack Obama fist-bumps custodian Lawrence Lipscomb in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building following the opening session of the White House Forum on Jobs and Economic Growth, Dec. 3, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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MoooOOOooorning Early Birds – Happy Tuesday!




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